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The Goblin Child

Rated 5.00 out of 5 based on 5 customer ratings
(5 customer reviews)

£8.99

Michael Forester’s award winning short stories and flash fiction range from fantasy to young love and old fear, Gay & Lesbian to spirituality & religion, metaphor to morals to literary fiction. Always these powerful, highly original tales are gripping and readable, stories that surprise, illuminate engage and enrich.


All books can be signed by the author on request. The standard signature is ‘Best Wishes Michael Forester’. Up to eight further words of your choice can be added when ordering in the Order Notes.

SKU: 9780995524804 Categories: ,

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The Goblin Child

Michael Forester’s award winning short stories and flash fiction range from fantasy to young love and old fear, Gay & Lesbian to spirituality & religion, metaphor to morals to literary fiction. Always these powerful, highly original tales are gripping and readable, stories that surprise, illuminate engage and enrich.

  • A man who remembers his birth in terrifying detail
  • A woman who is certain she has given birth to a goblin child
  • A child who takes his god to school for show and tell
  • A youth who prefers his revenge served cold
  • A teenage girl who, due to her love of nature, falls under the spell of a sexual predator
  • A priest confronted by a man who believes he is Santa Claus
  • A worker in a care home who is never permitted to leave
  • A man who sees the purpose of his life only after he dies
  • A dying poet who searches desperately for the interracial love of his youth.

In this apparently unconnected and eclectic group of tales, Michael Forester explores the circularity of our lives. The collection culminates unexpectedly in the story of a dying poet who finds, then loses, interracial love in a racist age, and discovers with TS Eliot that he ‘arrives where he began, to know the place for the first time.’ In so doing Forester reveals to us the circularity of our lives and that the events in them, so independent, so seemingly random, are truly interdependent, connected, planned.

Story 19 of 30: Vile Body

Madeleine can’t stop crying. She’s always like this when she’s about to kill one of her children. The pain she feels is indescribable but the need for termination of imperfect progeny is beyond dispute. It was Daddy, dear, dear Daddy who taught her that such aberrations must be eradicated as soon as discovered. He also taught her that it is kinder if this is done quickly.

Each time she gives birth, Madeleine is hopeful for her new child. At first she looks upon it with a radiant, all pervading love. So overwhelmed is she by the thought that this independent life came from inside herself, that she is incapable of seeing any imperfection. She engages with the new infant; looks at it this way and that; talks to it incessantly; works with dedication on its development. Then, as novelty yields to familiarity, she notices some minor deformity. Initially she convinces herself that this is unimportant; that the child will develop strong and healthy regardless and will outgrow such an insignificant imperfection of, perhaps, skeletal structure or sense.

Yet as each child reaches that point of adolescent detachment and begins to grow away from her, out of her control (and somehow, it is always at the end of chapter VI that this happens), she is forced to acknowledge that yes, this child, too, is deformed.

Always it ends the same. Always there must be cleansing. Always there must be death.

Madeleine has experimented with many forms of extermination over the years; death by submersion has too often failed to obscure completely; death by the blade can always be reversed. No, it has long since been established that there is only one form of eradication open to a loving parent such as herself who seeks true perfection – and that is death by fire. Why did it take her so long to realise this when it was Daddy himself that had shown her it was so all those years ago?


Today is Maddie’s seventh birthday. She is playing with her babies in the corner of her bedroom: Suzy-Jane and Lady Sarah, Ragged Julie and Baby Mary, Teddy and Barbie who must never be parted. Maddie loves her babies. She wants for them to love her back. They want so much to show her they love her too but they cannot move. Maddie wants her babies to move but she cannot make them move.

Now comes the shadow; a darkness, creeping over her from behind, so slowly that at first she barely notices. For Maddie is too busy loving her babies: Suzy-Jane and Lady Sarah, Ragged Julie and Baby Mary, Teddy and Barbie who must never be parted. The shadow spreads until she and they are covered. They can all hear it breathing behind them.

Now the shadow speaks. “It is time Madeleine. When I was a child I thought as a child, I spoke as a child. But when I became a man I put away childish things.” Maddie wants to argue, but she cannot make herself argue. Suzy-Jane and Lady Sarah, Ragged Julie and Baby Mary, Teddy and Barbie who must never be parted all want to argue but they cannot argue.


And so, one still summer evening, Madeleine descends the fire escape from her second floor Camden Lock apartment to the communal back garden, where the area allocated to her flat is the one furthest from the converted house. Other allocated spaces indicate the leisure proclivities of the tenants – a climbing frame here, neat rows of Brussels sprouts and lettuces there – but Madeleine’s territory is different. It is overgrown with savannah length grass, all except for a trampled path that leads from the broken wicket gate to the centre of the plot. There stands an ancient brazier, its bright red paint almost entirely peeled away by rust.

From the front pocket of Madeleine’s apron protrudes a bottle of barbeque lighter fluid, and hidden further down there is a box of matches. In her right hand she carries one of her precious children; in her left is its identical twin, a carbon copy. She lowers one bunioned foot in front of the other down the fire escape steps, gripping her children tightly. As a result she is unable to use the handrail to steady herself. Yet she will not risk loosening her grip on them, lest they blow away and their imperfection be scattered to the winds. She reaches the ground successfully, her face reddened with rosacea and effort. Morbid obesity has long since caused her features to recede into the drooping flesh of her face. Madeleine’s only concessions to femininity are an auburn Henna rinse now six weeks old and bright red, though terminally chewed, fingernails.


‘And the Lord said unto Abraham, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and offer him for a burnt offering upon the alter I shall show thee.’

Suzy-Jane and Lady Sarah, Ragged Julie and Baby Mary, Teddy and Barbie who must never be parted look at her, pleading for Maddie to save them, but she cannot save them.

“Put away thy childish things, Madeleine,” says the voice. “Take now thy babies whom thou lovest and offer them for a burnt offering upon the alter I shall show thee.” They want to move but they cannot move, Suzy-Jane and Lady Sarah, Ragged Julie and Baby Mary, Teddy and Barbie who must never be parted. Maddie wants to move and she can move but only as the voice tells her to move. “Take now thy babies Madeleine.” She picks up her babies. Baby Mary squeaks and blinks her eyes sadly. Barbie is in her evening dress. Suzy-Jane is sullen, silent.

“Turn around, Madeleine.”

Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Pegasus House Publishing; 1 edition (1 Sept. 2016)
Language: English
ISBN: 978-0-9955248-1-1
Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.4 x 22.9 cm

Additional information

Weight 0.4 kg
Dimensions 22.9 x 15.2 x 1.4 cm

5 reviews for The Goblin Child

  1. Rated 5 out of 5

    Janet C. Pascual

    Michael Forester, a writer with a multifaceted way of bringing his message home. Though not properly given the accolade due him, he is an outright winner on his own, an unsung hero whose works more than speak for himself.

    His words have the immense capacity to move even the littlest breathing and reading creature while the immeasurable depths of the same, can bring readers into new heights likewise leaving them with a longing for more, not to mention his skill in traversing with his down to earth lingo at one point to his more sophisticated diction interspersed with a certain touch of class and passion all his own, a writer worthy to be in the pedestal where he should belong, a great writer to be reckoned with.

    All these are clearly evident in The Goblin Child, a living testimony of the author’s creative, expressive, and imaginative writing, thus, being able to interweave stories of varying themes and subjects – scary stories, romance, family, bureaucracy, comedy, regret, etc., where each story can have the capacity to bring the readers into a different world, into a different dimension each time a new story begins – from the allusions and symbolism of The Birthday to the fantasy in the Goblin, the naturalism in Served Cold, a touch of romanticism in Circling the Moon and more.

    Being an incurable romantic, I particularly was caught on Circling the Moon which reveals not only the author’s eloquence but more so, his intensity and passion in weaving his stories – so intense, it makes me think he is more than Eliot himself – caught likewise on the line – ‘passed through the unknown, remembered gate, when the last of earth left to discover is that which was at the beginning’ – worth pondering.

    The Goblin Child is a book in which everyone can find a story to own, for when the story has been written, it is not anymore the author’s but for the reader to own.

    Surely, this book can be highly recommended, a must read for the young ones and the young once alike – Janet

  2. Rated 5 out of 5

    Zhang Qin

    Reflection on “For Show and Tell”:
    Although the whole story looks like a kid’s day-to-day affair, it actually has a profound meaning, and the story itself raises several philosophical questions. For example, is God unique? Is everyone’s God exclusive? Is it true that only God in one’s own eyes is real? Although these questions seem profound, from this story, they are the doubts of many children. The contest between ALI and MARY, for example, and JAMES’s disdain for other gods, including ANBER’s inner wobble, revolve around these issues. When it comes to the protagonist’s turn to speak, his feelings and perceptions of God are the most pure and beautiful. He doesn’t care how old his God is. On the contrary, from grandpa to Dad to himself, they have been accustomed to pouring out their inner thoughts to God, because the God is the embodiment of wisdom, which can solve all the problems in their hearts. This shows the protagonist’s love for God, and God will give him more. Whether God is unique, and whether he can share his God with other children, is entirely beyond the consideration of the protagonist–After all, a God who can listen and answer all the questions before he falls asleep is, in a sense, unique and irreproducible.
    –By ZhangQin from China at Jose Rizal University (JRU)

  3. Rated 5 out of 5

    Jericka Gail M. De Guzman

    The Goblin Child
    Reflection: A Small Ration of Jumbled Egg with Prawn

    “Cinderella” grew up having a dream of her own just like any young women. In the midst of her life she was unable to do so. What has been left for her is to continue dreaming of “what could have been?” There are a lot of answers to why this happened. It may be a cause of poverty or lack of knowledge to plan for a better future. The title “A Small Ration of Jumbled Egg with Prawn” relates to how far her dream used to be. From having a Latin prince charming lover who strolls on a Harley Davidson with eyes covered in aviator to waiting tables and writing down another order of jumbled egg with prawn. Jumbled egg with prawn is usually a fisherman’s breakfast which symbolizes hardship and modest living. In this story, she serves this meal in a restaurant which is totally different from her life goals. The story may tell that she has a deferred dream.
    Nowadays, we settle for what we already have in our life when in fact, we can do or get a lot better than those. We have our skills and talents to enhance, to use, and to develop not just our personality but also our career path and life in general. We should not be stuck in a situation that we do not enjoy doing or living. Same in choosing the right man to deal with; we should act properly and get our life together to be able to get the right man for us. We have different options; we just have to decide on the right path to walk to.

    Jericka Gail M. De Guzman
    Jose Rizal University

    • Michael

      Thanks for your feedback Jericka. You’ve seen even more in the story than I realised was there!

  4. Rated 5 out of 5

    Zhang Qin

    Reflection on “For Show and Tell”:
    Although the whole story looks like a kid’s day-to-day affair, it actually has a profound meaning, and the story itself raises several philosophical questions. For example, is God unique? Is everyone’s God exclusive? Is it true that only God in one’s own eyes is real? Although these questions seem profound, from this story, they are the doubts of many children. The contest between ALI and MARY, for example, and JAMES’s disdain for other gods, including ANBER’s inner wobble, revolve around these issues. When it comes to the protagonist’s turn to speak, his feelings and perceptions of God are the most pure and beautiful. He doesn’t care how old his God is. On the contrary, from grandpa to Dad to himself, they have been accustomed to pouring out their inner thoughts to God, because the God is the embodiment of wisdom, which can solve all the problems in their hearts. This shows the protagonist’s love for God, and God will give him more. Whether God is unique, and whether he can share his God with other children, is entirely beyond the consideration of the protagonist–After all, a God who can listen and answer all the questions before he falls asleep is, in a sense, unique and irreproducible.
    –By ZhangQin from china in Jose Rizal University (JRU)

    • Michael

      What fantastic feedback on ‘For show and Tell’, Zhang. I’m glad you’ve uncovered the deeper meaning of the story and that you found it so thought-provoking.

  5. Rated 5 out of 5

    Kevin Tutanes

    REFLECTIONS ON YOU SAY GOODBYE from GOBLIN CHILD
    There are reasons why someone leaves and someone forgets. We should be mature enough to accept these changes and look forward for better things yet to come. Letting someone go is not the end of the world. Instead, think that a new chapter of our lives begins, when some choose to remove us from the chapters of their book.
    This selection can be best taught in the higher grade levels due to its complexity and undesirable moral impact to high school students. Young kids might not be able to fully comprehend what is happening in the story. Older high school students can relate or put their feet at the shoes of the couple in the story and reflect about the feelings and emotions present in the letter. Some students who are also products of broken families might be able to relate with the scenario from the story in their own life. Reflective approach can be best implied when teaching this selection.

    • Michael

      thanks for your feedback, Kevin, and thank you for reading my story.

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